Lent is my favorite liturgical season because I’m a depressing-kind of guy. The sorrowful mysteries of Our Lord appeal to my melancholic nature, and the sadness during this season counter-balances the joy I feel throughout the rest of the year.
I guess people who know me find it hard to believe that I have a somber nature. People don’t believe it either when I say that I’m introverted. The truth is, I get tired around people and I like thinking about my mortality. Extroverts, I hear, feel energized when they mingle with large groups of people. They are happy to meet new people. I dread meeting new people and I would rather talk to one or two friends, if anyone at all. I prefer to be alone. Thinking about the shortness of life, and what to do to have no regrets.
Isn’t that weird? And, I’m a diplomat. And I do Toastmasters. And I am involved in Church. All people-centered activities. This is how I know the Holy Spirit is alive in my life. I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me. He allows me to do things that are not really part of my nature. Grace builds on nature, and God certainly has built much on such a poor foundation.
So, the season of Lent brings me back to my pensive roots. I am reminded of the cost to Christ for the purchase of my salvation, and the salvation of my brothers and sisters. I am reminded that we are all pilgrims, trying our best to be faithful, helping where we can. It’s like we are all on this great big ship going on this incredibly long journey. The ocean is the world and all its attractions, like the sirens of Greek mythology. Can you blame us, Lord, for our weakness? Are you surprised to see us jump ship, only to drown in our slavery to sin? It takes so much discipline to tie ourselves to the mast of the ship like Odysseus.
I will celebrate my sixth year as a Christian this Easter. Lent also reminds me of my time as a catechumen in RCIA. Oh, how deeply I fell in love with Your Church, Lord. Your Bride is so beautiful and I was only too happy to be a part of her at Easter so that I could receive You.
I’ve grown so much, but have grown so little. I grew beyond my selfish spirituality and realized that my mission is to make my whole family holy, not just myself. If I fail in sanctifying my wife and children, then I fail in my vocation as a husband and as a father. Being a diplomat is small stuff when compared to the responsibilities I have for the immortal souls of my family.
I grew beyond my selfish religion, where I go to Mass and then go home. Now, I not only help build up my parish, but identify my spiritual growth along with my whole parish. So, I do children’s liturgy (aka, Children’s Church) with my wife and daughters; I volunteer at RCIA when Maya is going to religious education classes; I sing in the choir for a second Sunday Mass.
As much as I grew, I have grown little in other areas of my life. I still do not lead my family in prayer. My wife is her own island of prayer. I have my own prayer life that I cling to. We pray together at meals, at Mass, and sometimes in the evenings before bed. Leading a family prayer life? No, not yet.
Lent is not just a time to give up something temporarily for forty days. Giving up something for forty days should help me give it up permanently — but the problem is that I’m not giving up anything that I will not pick up again after Lent. Coffee? Can’t wait until Sunday, April 5th! Netflix? Oh, I can binge watch Season 3 of “House of Cards” with my coffee. To paraphrase St. Augustine, “Give me self-control, Lord, but not yet!”
Since I can’t give up a bad habit, I can build good ones. I will try to pray both the Morning and Evening Office in the Liturgy of the Hours. This is in addition to doing daily Rosary prayers. In addition to the obligatory days of fasting, I pray to observe days where I only eat bread and drink water. Even just thinking about it makes my tongue feel bored. Which means it will be a great mortification for my body — my free will shall be stronger than the passions of my flesh!
Pray for me. I pray for you. God bless you during this Lenten season.